Neighbors take 'brawl' north Amherst, Mass., is site of Duke-UNC tourney game


The Tobacco Road lacrosse rivalry will receive some New England flavoring on Saturday.

Separated by fewer than a dozen miles, No. 7 Duke and North Carolina will play an NCAA tournament first-round game in Amherst, Mass., a predetermined site about 675 miles north of the schools.

"I guess it's a long way to travel for a backyard brawl," said Chase Martin, a Gilman product who leads the Tar Heels in scoring. "But we'll play anywhere. We're just happy to be in the tournament and have a chance to redeem ourselves."

North Carolina (7-7) is only the second team to make the NCAA tournament with a nonwinning record. The first was Virginia, which lost its 1974 first-round game to Cornell by seven goals.

Duke (10-3) is attempting to advance to the quarterfinals in back-to-back years for the first time in school history.

The Blue Devils have won four of their past five meetings with Carolina, including 13-9 on March 11. In that game, Duke pulled away from the Tar Heels as a result of its physical play.

"I talked with [North Carolina coach Dave] Klarmann the other day and said let's meet at Riverside High in town and decide it," Duke coach Mike Pressler said. "It's not a playoff game for us, it's a bowl game. When we put bodies on folks, we're at our best."

Hobart is back, 'fired up'

Hobart coach B. J. O'Hara was driving from the airport after the Statesmen's loss to Princeton on Saturday when it hit him.

"I realized that our seniors have never been to the playoffs," he said. "A Hobart class not going to the tournament is unheard of."

And despite a season-ending four-game skid, Hobart is back in the NCAAs, receiving its first Division I bid. The Statesmen had won 16 Division III titles in 23 tournament appearances, including 12 straight from 1980 to '91, before moving up to Division I in 1995.

"We can't be more fired up," said O'Hara, who has won three championships since becoming coach in 1990. "I think people on the periphery were a little naive. They thought we could just snap our fingers and be competitive. But we know it's a process and was going to take a lot of hard work. I forgot how much fun it is to be playing this time of year."

Hobart (8-4) will play No. 6 Virginia (7-4) on Saturday in Amherst. The Cavaliers, who were a top-four seed for four straight years, are playing in the first round for the first time since 1994.

"I would prefer to be No. 6 than No. 4. I swear to that," said Virginia coach Dom Starsia, whose team has been idle for nearly two weeks. "At this point, I think we're better served by playing than sitting."

UMBC a site to behold

They are sprucing up 22 year-old UMBC Stadium in a big way these days. The reason is simple.

The 1998 NCAA Division I and Division III women's lacrosse championships are headed to Baltimore for the first time in the 19-year history of the tournament.

The semifinals and finals in both divisions will be played in the 4,500-seat stadium the weekend of May 15-17.

"We hope to put on the best tournament ever," said UMBC athletic director Charles Brown. "UMBC is located in a hotbed of lacrosse and our goal is to sell out the stadium."

Pub Date: 5/07/98

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